News Analysis

By Cathleen Decker
October 3, 2013, 3:38 p.m.

The theme for this weekend’s California Republican Party convention could have been the theme for every California Republican convention going back years: Rebuilding From the Ground Up.

A brief recap of the party’s woes: Its share of the state’s registered voters has slumped below 30%. Democrats control all facets of Sacramento, from state offices to both houses of the Legislature. Most of its fundraising has gone to retiring a walloping debt.

Republicans in Washington might have been able to leverage their minority status into outsized power, but not so their California counterparts. Where else to go but up?

True, the convention will undoubtedly include the usual bits of lunacy that surface at any party’s gathering. (At their most recent meeting last spring, some attendees expressed fear that Harmeet Dhillon, an immigrant from India then running for vice chair of the party, would sacrifice a goat at the convention. She won anyway.)

It also will, if state chairman Jim Brulte has his way, highlight the flickers of success that have come the party’s way of late, even if they are just flickers. In July, the party picked up a state Senate seat previously held by a Democrat, though that did not deny Democrats their two-thirds control of the Senate. The party now has a positive balance in its bank account, although it has $9 million or so less than state Democrats have to spend. A recent survey of local officeholders found that almost half of them are Republicans, though they appear to have benefited from an issue set that becomes problematic for Republicans as candidates move up the ladder.

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